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Zillow needs neither license nor exemption

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Automated valuation models, known as "AVMs," aren't new. In fact, lenders and appraisers have used these computer-generated estimates of property values for some years as both a supplement to and substitute for an opinion of value prepared by a state-licensed appraiser. So why has the state of Arizona turned Zillow's "Zestimates," which differ little if at all from other automated valuations, into a political ping-pong ball? Part of the answer may be that Zillow, for better and worse, happened to hit on a catchy name that has attracted a lot of attention. The public, the media, interest groups and now state lawmakers all seem oddly enamored of both Zillow and its "Zestimates," which are no more than automated valuations by a sexier name. No other facts in evidence thus far have suggested any other less ludicrous reason why Arizona has targeted only Zillow and not any of the company's many brethren in the same business. Anecdotal evidence suggests that many and maybe even...